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Aggies Prep for Elite 8 Showdown with UConn

March 30, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

Texas A&M met the media and went through a 90-minute workout Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in advance of their NCAA Regional Final showdown with No. 1 UConn.

The Aggies and Huskies will square off Monday at 8:30 p.m. (CT) for a trip to the Women's Final Four in Nashville.

Photos, audio and video are available through the links to the left.

Quotes from Sunday are posted below (courtesy Nebraska Media Relations).


2014 NCAADivision I women’s basketball championship

Lincoln Regional Championship · #1 UConn vs. #3 Texas A&M

Pinnacle Bank Arena · Lincoln, Nebraska

Practice Day · Sunday, March 30, 2014




Gary Blair, Texas A&M Head Coach:

Opening Statement

Texas A&M Student-Athletes

Karla Gilbert, Texas A&M Senior Center
On what she says to the younger members of the team about playing in the Elite Eight
“I don’t necessarily know if they need more help. We’re all sitting here and we’re hungry. We’ve watched basketball all day today, all day the previous days and it’s just something we want. We’re hungry for it and we’re ready to get out there and go play. It’s not necessarily because it’s for UConn, it’s because we want to make it all the way to the top.”

On the turning point of the season after the St. John’s loss
“I think we just recognized what we were all capable of doing. Before that, we had been together, but a lot of people hadn’t had the roles we are filling right now. I think it was just more figuring out exactly what we can and cannot do and getting a feel for one another. On and off the court, we also bonded well. We do a lot of things off the court also, just putting two and two together, is what helped us step up and realize exactly what we can and can’t do.”

On if they’ve heard from former players on the national championship team
“Most definitely. They are around everywhere. They may be overseas, we see a lot on the social networks. They tag us in everything, they’re very proud of the coaches and the team. Sydney Colson is with our team now, what more inspiration could you need? They’ve always backed us up 100 percent. Even if we lost a game, they’ll text and call and talk to you on social media. They’re proud of us regardless.”

Kristen Grant, Texas A&M Senior Guard
On what she says to the younger members of the team about playing in the Elite Eight
“Our team doesn’t need a lot of help. All we can do is just go out there and work hard every day and show them the work ethic that is required of the team to be at the top. We’ve been there before. We have a great, great team. They know what it takes, the coaches know what it takes, so we just have to go out there and perform.”

On the turning point of the season after the St. John’s loss
“Yeah, Karla is right. We had a come to Jesus meeting after that loss. That really helped us. We just worked through some issues we had as a team. With the chemistry of the team, we didn’t really have any. After that we bonded on the court and off the court. We started hanging out with one another as a group. We would ask the coaches if we could bowling, play laser tag together, and just that little bit of team outside of the court just really helped us as a whole on the court. It was a big change, we started winning, we started smiling more, high-fiving each other and just having a good time. That is what led us to the Elite Eight.

Courtney Walker, Texas A&M Sophomore Forward
On how they’ve put what happened the last time they played UConn out of their mind
“We look at what we did and what we did wrong in the film and moved on from it for the next game last year. This is a whole new season and a whole new team; we’re looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”

Jordan Jones, Texas A&M Sophomore Guard
On how much of her emphasis goes into her defensive play
“Defense is probably one of Coach Blair’s greatest confidences in myself and I take a lot of pride in that because last year, coming off the bench, I was really the spark player behind Adrienne (Patcher), who was more the leading scoring point guard than myself. I was more of the defensive guard, I just really tried to keep that in my repertoire going into this year and using my quickness with my hands and my feet, it could give a lot of people problems. Also to my teammates, it helps them get in the passing lanes more, denying the ball, It just makes my job easier. I really thank coach Starkey because he is a basketball guru. He gave me all my mechanics, all I do wrong, all I do right. It’s just up to me to fix it.”

On her friendship with Moriah Jefferson
“I’m very excited. Me and Mo, it’s not even a friendship anymore. She is family, she’s like my sister. She has a key to my house, I have a key to her house. It’s just great, we have that bond. We’ve talked about it a lot, but we know that once we step on the court it’s not Jordan and Moriah, it’s UConn and Texas A&M.  There is no friendship on the court and we both know that playing in high school. It’s going to be a great competition between two great teams.”

On what Coach Starkey brings to the team
“Bob Starkey, where to start? He’s just flexible, would be a great word to describe Coach Starkey. Some coaches just have one system and one defensive plan for every team, just do it one way every time. One game plan we might hedge a screen and go under, the next game plan we might jam a screen and go over the top. He just does a great job of recognizing what teams like to do and their strengths. He takes our strengths as well on defense and compares it to what they like to do. He just studies the game. He writes books, he reads books. He’s always in the gym, breaking down film. We get done with a game at 10 o’clock, he’ll stay in the gym until 1 a.m., come back and 7 a.m. and pick up where he left off. He is resilient with what he does and that’s what makes him a great defensive coach.”

Courtney Williams, Texas A&M Sophomore Guard
On the challenge of defending Breanna Stewart
“She is a great player, but I’m not really worried about that right now. If we want to win, we have to play defense as a team. I could just try my hardest, do my defensive assignment that Coach Starkey gives me and just play my hardest.”


Locker Room Quotes

Chelsea Jennings, Texas A&M Guard

On the team’s performance on both ends of the floor last night

“We really focused on transition defense, because DePaul was really dangerous in transition. We executed that, and that helped us build the lead.”


On differences in preparation between DePaul and UConn

“I feel like they’re similar in transition. They’re both really good and talented in transition offense. It’s going to come down to our defense and being able to hold them under their averages.”

On what it means to have a chance at the Final Four

“It’s good for us because we were known as the Kelsey Bone show. When she left, some didn’t feel like we could live up to the expectations. I think we’ve done that this year.”

On not getting caught up in UConn’s accomplishments

“I think teams get caught up in seeing UConn on the jersey, and it turns into a mental factor. No matter who we play, we’re going to get out there and play Aggie basketball.”


Curtyce Knox, Texas A&M Guard

On being so close to a trip to the Final Four

“It’s a great feeling. We get to come in and play UConn, and this would be a great game for us to win. We have a chance to shock the world.”

On not focusing on the name on the jersey

“The name on the jersey doesn’t mean anything as long as you play hard. We believe in each other.”

On the difference in preparation between DePaul and UConn

“DePaul is great in transition, but UConn is the best in transition that we’ve seen so far. I think the DePaul game really helped prepare us for this game. If we get back in transition, I think it should be a great game.”


On the importance of balance against UConn

“Transition points will be a big factor in this game. Whoever gets out and runs the most and attacks will obviously have an advantage. We have a great post game and great guards, so whoever can get out in transition will be in good shape.” 

On if the approach changes being so close to the Final Four

“I think everything is the same. We need to keep digging and keep playing hard. Against a team like UConn, we need to play every possession out to the final second.”

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